Call for politics lessons across the school curriculum

Students should be taught political literacy so they understand how democracy works when they leave school, say MPs

Rob Griffin

Elections and democracy: A group of MPs and lords is calling for politics to be taught across the school curriculum

Politics should be taught across the national curriculum to ensure that students know how the democratic system works before they leave secondary school, according to MPs and peers.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Political Literacy believes young people need a far better understanding of our political system.

The group is calling for political and media literacy to be built into the current curriculum across different subjects in secondary schools.

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And it is inviting teachers, education bodies and students to discuss the issue at a virtual event next Thursday.

Matteo Bergamini, founder and chief executive of Shout Out UK, which set up the APPG, believes young people are politicised but can lack the skills required to engage with government.

Teaching political literacy in schools

He said: “We need everyone to understand how our system works, how to better it, engage with it and campaign about issues they care about. That has to start at school.

“Young people can handle it and are more than willing to engage. It builds the narrative that they have a voice – it’s relevant, and it can be heard.”

He also wants to see more critical thinking in the classroom.

“It’s a matter of safeguarding our democracy,” he said. “Political and media illiteracy allows people to be influenced and manipulated by false information.”

Next week’s meeting will discuss how a cross-curricular approach to political literacy could become the norm within secondary schools.

The subjects could include the ability to interpret contextualised statistics in maths and science lessons, and honing analytic skills during humanities sessions, campaigners say.

The event will hear from parliamentarians, young people, teachers and guest speakers from several educational organisations.

Catherine van Saarloos, from MEI (Mathematics in Education and Industry), will be among those taking part.

“It’s an excellent opportunity to highlight how the teaching and learning of core maths contributes to political literacy by helping young people to gain the vital skills they need to question claims they see in the media and assess whether they are real or fake,” she said.

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